Hands praises new education focus in youth justice system

Greg Hands M.P. has welcomed new proposals from Conservative Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, to help young offenders turn their backs on crime.

The new plans, published yesterday, mark a radically different approach. Transforming Youth Custody: Putting Education at the Heart of Detention aims to deliver value for the taxpayer, reduce reoffending and set young offenders on the path to a better life.

The aim is to learn the lessons of education reform and have Secure Colleges provide education in a period of detention, rather than detention with education as an afterthought. Already, the Free Schools and Academies programmes have brought improvements in education standards well above the national average and turned around some of the worst-performing secondary schools in the country. The Government wants to draw on this experience and bring new expertise and providers into the market to improve outcomes for young people in custody.

The current system needs reform:

In the 12 months to June 2012, some 3,645 young offenders received a custodial sentence.

The average cost of a youth custodial place is £100,000 a year, with some as much as £200,000.
The vast majority of 15-17 year olds in Young Offender Institutions have been excluded from school at some point.
Half of those in this age group are assessed as having the literacy levels to that expected of a 7 -11 year old.
When young offenders leave custody, 73 per cent reoffend within a year.

Professionals from the education sector, custodial services and organisations with an interest in young people are among those being consulted on the complete transformation of youth custody.

Launching the paper, Chris Grayling said: “We cannot go on just doing more of the same, pouring more money into a system doesn't work in the hope of a different outcome.  That doesn’t make any sense to the taxpayer, or to the young people who we should be trying to get back on the straight and narrow.”

Greg Hands M.P. added: “It is absolutely vital that we tackle re-offending. If we can succeed in turning troubled young people away from a life of crime, and cut reoffending rates, that will mean less crime, fewer victims and safer communities. By putting education at the heart of the approach we can help young offenders to get on in life and make a contribution to society.

“I urge local youth charities and other interested groups in Chelsea and Fulham to make submissions so that the views from our area can form part of the policy making process.”

The full consultation document can be read here.